Canberrans embrace new cutting edge solar system in hopes of slashing energy bills


September 27, 2017 06:23:07

Retiree Eric Pulford is one of many Canberrans turning to a new home energy system that aims to slash about 60 per cent off annual energy bills.

The best part? He says it will cost just a gold coin a day.

With soaring wholesale electricity prices and the prospect of a looming gas shortfall nationally next year, renewable energy proponents say individual consumers like Mr Pulford could play an increasingly important role as citizen investors.

“I say it is a little bit gold plated,” Mr Pulford says of his $20,000 investment.

“It is my badge of honour.”

What sets his system apart is the large residential battery, plus an energy control system created in the ACT.

How it works:

  • A small control box connects to 30 solar panels and residential solar battery
  • The box monitors and predicts home energy use
  • The software also gathers local weather predictions and monitors the volatile electricity market
  • When power prices peak, the system automatically sells excess energy stored in his battery back to the grid, earning credits and lowering the household bill.

“We have just decided to spend our retirement this way instead of a caravan or a four-wheel-drive, because we hope to live in this place for another 10 to 20 years,” Mr Pulford said.

“We want to make it as comfortable and as sustainable as possible.

“It will pay off itself and we hope to live long enough to enjoy it.”

Mr Pulford has lived in the Wanniassa home for 41 years.

The new system was installed last month and he is already generating enough power to run all his home energy needs, charge his son’s hybrid SUV and sell excess back to the grid.

“Most days I am on the winner; I’m getting [a] $1.92 bill for a day.

“It ranges between $2 to about $1.90 a day for energy and that can be with the clothes dryers and bar heaters on.”

Mr Pulford said he expects to pay off the investment within 14 years.

Canberra’s virtual power plant

The Canberra-based renewable energy start up, Reposit Power, has installed this technology in more than 1,000 homes across the country.

In the ACT, 250 homes with Reposit technology are generating up to 1.2 megawatts, which is dwarfed by territory-wide consumption.

“It depends a lot on whether people are prepared to buy batteries,” the company’s chief operating officer Luke Osborne said.

Reposit Power predicts its client base will double within a year and hopes to have its technology in 5,000 homes by 2020.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) said the ACT continues to lead the nation pioneering the transition to renewable energy generation, battery storage and trading.

“The real impact is when millions of homes have batteries — and I think we will get there,” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said.

“1.7 million homes have solar on their rooftops. That’s out of a total of 9 million homes and a large fraction of those at some time in the future are also going to have a battery.

“We are talking multiple large power plants effectively coming from people’s homes, which is why they are called virtual power plants.”

The ACT Government has released a third round of funding to accelerate solar battery storage and the $4 million includes subsidies for batteries with Reposit control boxes.

“The ACT is doing a large home based battery roll out which is a critical part of making the system overall more reliable,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“It would be great to see more of that happening across Australia and that will lead to a much more reliable and renewable base load system.”

Mr Pulford agreed.

“We can’t continue to use fossil fuels for our energy because the future generation will pay the price,” he said.









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